Teaching internships can make you laugh, cry

Behind the big desk

(April 22, 1999, Gazette)

By Albert Johnson

Every winter semester approximately 120 education students from Memorial's Bachelor of Education (intermediate/secondary) program venture out into schools across the province and country. The internship is completed in the second semester of the program and gives these student teachers an opportunity to put theory to practice and learn in a very practical way what it means to be a teacher. For the vast majority of the students, the internship will be the first time they stand in front of a group of adolescents with the intent to teach them.

Kurtis Baggs and Donna Squires finished their internship in April. Mr. Baggs completed his internship at Beaconsfield Junior High School where he taught English and social studies to Grade 9 students.

"I was looking forward to my internship," Mr. Baggs remembered. "I knew it would make or break my attitudes about teaching. I was nervous about meeting my cooperating teacher and was concerned about whether or not we would share similar attitudes about teaching.

"I don't think I'll ever forget my first class. The classroom was quiet, my mouth was dry and 36 faces were looking at me waiting for me to say something intelligent about the topic of the day. Fortunately, the nerves didn't last long, and in a few days I was OK."

Ms. Squires completed her internship at Gonzaga High School and taught physical education and English to students in levels II and III. She was looking forward to the break from the regular classroom routine that the internship would provide.

A concern for many interns placed in high schools is the limited age difference between themselves and their students.

"I was a little nervous when the time came to go into the classroom," said Ms. Squires. "I was concerned about the students and how they would accept me, but it worked out well. As I started taking over more of my cooperating teacher's classes I became more comfortable."

Despite the initial worries the internship was a positive experience for Mr. Baggs and Ms. Squires and they both believe they learned a great deal.

"I learned the importance of being organized with my work and documenting what I do in the classroom," said Mr. Baggs. "I was able to understand the significance of being consistent with the students and I saw how much of an influence I could be on them.

"The best part about teaching is that something different happens every day. I know now that I definitely want to be a teacher."

"I learned that it's very important to be upfront, fair and honest with your students," remarked Ms. Squires. "Building a good rapport with students is vital. I'm not sure at what point it happened, I just know that teaching is what I wanted to do. There is always something to make you laugh and make you cry."